The United States government identifies several racial groups, including Asian American, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native and White. The terms are often used to identify various societal groups.
Racial categorization falls under the authority of the United States Office of Management and Budget and is used to define how groups and individuals are identified but do not represent any scientifically-based assumptions. The categories are used to identify various groups, including
- U.S. citizens
- Resident aliens
- Eligible non-citizens
The five primary categories include
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Black or African American
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
These categories are used on the U.S. Census and appear as voluntary information on educational and employment applications. In addition to the four racial groups, a fifth category of Hispanic or Latino is offered as an ethnicity. Individuals who identify in this category may also select one of the racial categories as well. Ethnic groups include individuals who identify with specific national origins, religions, languages, and cultures.
Many organizations who record racial and ethnic data also offer users the ability to choose more than one race, to choose "Other" as a category, or to choose "Mixed Race." As more individuals intermarry across racial and ethnic lines, the ability for agents outside the individual himself or herself to make decisions about race and ethnicity become blurred, particularly for children who identify with multi-racial backgrounds.